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DEATH:

I.
1 THE festive roar of laughter, the warm glow
2 Of brisk-ey'd joy, and friendship's genial bowl.
3 Wit's season'd converse, and the liberal flow
4 Of unsuspicious youth, profuse of soul,
5 Delight not ever; from the boisterous scene
6 Of riot far, and Comus' wild uproar,
7 From folly's crowd, whose vacant brow serene
8 Was never knit to wisdom's srowning lore,
9 Permit me, ye time-hallow'd domes, ye piles
10 Of rude magnificence, your solemn rest,
11 Amid your fretted vaults and length'ning isles,
12 Lonely to wander; no unholy guest,
13 That means to break, with sacrilegious tread,
14 The marble slumbers of your monumented dead.
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II.
15 Permit me with sad musings, that inspire
16 Unlabour'd numbers apt, your silence drear
17 Blameless to wake, and with th' Orphean lyre
18 Fitly attemper'd, sooth the merciless ear
19 Of Hades, and stern death, whose iron sway
20 Great nature owns thro' all her wide domain;
21 All that with oary sin cleave their smooth way
22 Through the green bosom of the spawny main,
23 And those that to the streaming aether spread,
24 In many a wheeling glide, their feathery sail;
25 And those that creep; and those that statelier tread,
26 That roam o'er forest, hill, or browsed dale;
27 The victims each of ruthless fate must fall;
28 E'en God's own image, man, high paramount of all.
III.
29 And ye, the young, the giddy, and the gay,
30 That startle from the sleepful lid of light
31 The curtain'd rest, and with the dissonant bray
32 Of Bacchus, and loud jollity, affright
33 Yon radiant goddess, that now shoots among
34 These many windowed isles her glimmering beam;
35 Know, that or e'er its starr'd career along
36 Thrice shall have roll'd her silvery-wheeled team,
37 Some parent breast may heave the answering sigh,
38 To the slow pauses of the funeral knoll;
39 E'en now black Atropos, with scowling eye,
40 Roars in the laugh, and revels o'er the bowl,
41 E'en now in rosy-crowned pleasure's wreath
42 Entwines in adder folds all-unsuspected Death.
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IV
43 Know, on the stealing wing of time shall flee
44 Some few, some short-liv'd years; and all is past;
45 A future bard these awful domes may see,
46 Muse o'er the present age as I the last;
47 Who mouldering in the grave, yet once like you;
48 The various maze of life were seen to tread,
49 Each bent their own peculiar to pursue,
50 As custom urg'd or wilful nature led;
51 Mix'd with the various crouds inglorious clay,
52 The nobler virtues undistinguish'd lie;
53 No more to melt with beauty's heav'n-born ray,
54 No more to wet compassion's tearful eye,
55 Catch from the poet raptures not their own,
56 And feel the thrilling melody of sweet renown.
V.
57 Where is the master-hand, whose semblant art
58 Chissel'd the marble into life, or taught
59 From the well-pencill'd portraiture to start
60 The nerve that beat with soul, the brow that thought!
61 Cold are the fingers that in stone-sixt trance
62 The mute attention rivetting, to the lyre
63 Struck language: dimm'd the poet's quick-ey'd glance.
64 All in wild raptures flashing heaven's own fire.
65 Shrunk is the sinew'd energy, that strung
66 The warrior arm: where sleeps the patriot breast
67 Whilom that heav'd impassion'd! Where the tongue
68 That lanc'd its lightning on the towering crest
69 Of scepter'd insolence, and overthrew
70 Giant Oppression, leagued with all her earth-born crew!
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VI.
71 These now are past; long, long, ye fleeting years,
72 Pursue, with glory wing'd, your fated way,
73 Ere from the womb of time unwelcome peers
74 The dawn of that inevitable day,
75 When wrapt in shrouded clay their warmest friend
76 The widow'd virtues shall again deplore,
77 When o'er his urn in pious grief shall bend
78 His Britain, and bewail one patriot more;
79 For soon must thou, too soon! who spreadst abroad
80 Thy beaming emanations unconfin'd,
81 Doom'd, like some better angel sent of God
82 To scatter blessings over humankind,
83 Thou too must fall, O Pitt! to shine no more,
84 And tread these dreadful paths, a Faulkland trod before.
VII.
85 Fast to the driving winds the marshall'd clouds
86 Sweep discontinuous o'er the etherial plain;
87 Another still upon another crouds,
88 All hastening downward to their native main.
89 Thus passes o'er thro' varied life's career
90 Man's fleeting age; the Seasons as they fly
91 Snatch from us in their course, year after year,
92 Some sweet connection, some endearing tie.
93 The parent, ever-honour'd, ever-dear,
94 Claims from the filial breast the pious sigh;
95 A brother's urn demands the kindred tear;
96 And gentle sorrows gush from friendship's eye.
97 To-day we frolick in the rosy bloom
98 Of jocund youth The morrow knells us to the tomb.
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VIII.
99 Who knows how soon in this sepulchral spot,
100 Shall heaven to me the drear abode assign!
101 How soon the past irrevocable lot
102 Of these, that rest beneath me, shall be mine.
103 Haply, when Zephyr to thy native bourn
104 Shall waft thee o'er the storm'd Hibernian wave,
105 Thy gentle breast, my Tavistock
a Francis, Marquis of Tavistock, only son to the Duke of Bedford. His death, which happened on the 22d of March, 1767, was occasioned by a fall from his horse a few days before. Mr. Emily was Fellow of Trinity-College, Cambridge, and had been Tutor to the Marquis. He died in the year 1762, being then major of the Surry militia.
, shall mourn
106 To find me sleeping in the senseless grave.
107 No more the social leisure to divide,
108 In the sweet intercourse of soul and soul,
109 Blithe or of graver brow; no more to chide
110 The ling'ring years impatient as they roll,
111 Till all thy cultur'd virtues shall display,
112 Full blossom'd, their bright honours to the gazing day.
IX.
113 Ah, dearest youth! these vows perhaps unheard,
114 The rude wind scatters o'er the billowy main;
115 These prayers at friendship's holy shrine preferr'd
116 May rise to grasp their father's knees in vain.
117 Soon, soon may nod the sad funereal plume
118 With solemn horror o'er thy timeless hearse,
119 And I survive to grave upon thy tomb
120 The mournful tribute of memorial verse.
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121 That leave to heaven's decision Be it thine,
122 Higher than yet a parent's wishes flew,
123 To soar in bright pre-eminence, and shine
124 With self-earn'd honours, eager to pursue,
125 Where glory, with her clear unsully'd rays,
126 The well-born spirit lights to deeds of mightiest praise.
X.
127 'Twas she thy God-like Russell's bosom steel'd
128 With confidence untam'd, in his last breath
129 Stern-smiling. She, with calm composure, held
130 The patriot axe of Sidney, edg'd with death.
131 Smit with the warmth of her impulsive flame,
132 Wolfe's gallant virtue flies to worlds a-far,
133 Emulous to pluck fresh wreaths of well-earn'd fame
134 From the grim frowning brow of laurel'd war.
135 'Twas she, that on the morn of direful birth,
136 Bared thy young bosom to the fatal blow,
137 Lamented Armytage
b Sir John Armytage, Member of Parliament for the City of York, who was killed at St. Cas, in the year 1758.
! the bleeding youth!
138 O bathe him in the pearly caves below,
139 Ye Nereids; and ye Nymphs of Camus hoar,
140 Weep for ye oft have seen him on your haunted shore.
XI.
141 Better to die with glory, than recline
142 On the soft lap of ignominious peace,
143 Than yawn out the dull droning life supine
144 In monkish apathy and gowned ease.
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145 Better employ'd in honour's bright career
146 The least division on the dial's round,
147 Than thrice to compass Saturn's live-long year,
148 Grown old in sloth, the burthen of the ground;
149 Than tug with sweating toil the slavish oar
150 Of unredeem'd affliction, and sustain
151 The fev'rous rage of fierce diseases sore
152 Unnumber'd, that in sympathetic chain
153 Hang ever thro' the thick circumfluous air,
154 All from the drizzly verge of yonder star-girt sphere.
XII.
155 Thick in the many-beaten road of life,
156 A thousand maladies are posted round,
157 With wretched man to wage eternal strife
158 Unseen, like ambush'd Indians, till they wound.
159 There the swol'n hydrop stands, the wat'ry rheum,
160 The northern scurvy, blotch with lep'rous scale;
161 And moping ever in the cloister'd gloom
162 Of learned sloth, the bookish asthma pale:
163 And the shunn'd hag unsightly, that ordain'd
164 On Europe's sons to wreak the faithless sword
165 Of Cortez, with the blood of millions stain'd,
166 O'er dog-ey'd lust the tort'ring scourge abhorr'd,
167 Shakes threat'ning; since the while she wing'd her flight
168 From Amazon's broad wave, and Andes' snow-clad height.
XIII.
169 Where the wan daughter of the yellow year,
170 The chatt'ring ague chill, the writhing stone,
171 And he of ghastly feature, on whose ear
172 Unheeded croaks the death-bird's warning moan,
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173 Marasmus; knotty gout; and the dead life
174 Of nerveless palsy; there on purpose fell
175 Dark brooding, whets his interdicted knife
176 Grim suicide, the damned fiend of hell.
177 There too is the stunn'd apoplexy pight
c Placed.
,
178 The bloated child of gorg'd intemperance foul;
179 Self-wasting melancholy, black as night
180 Lowering, and foaming fierce with hideous howl
181 The dog hydrophoby, and near allied
182 Scar'd madness, with her moon-struck eye-balls staring wide.
XIV.
183 There, stretch'd one huge, beneath the rocky mine
d Alluding to the earthquake at Lisbon.
,
184 With boiling sulphur fraught, and smouldering fires;
185 He, the dread delegate of wrath divine,
186 E'er while that stood o'er Taio's hundred spires
187 Vindictive; thrice he wav'd th' earth-shaking wand,
188 Powerful as that the son of Amram bore,
189 And thrice he rais'd, and thrice he check'd his hand.
190 He struck the rocking ground, with thund'rous roar
191 Yawn'd; here from street to street hurries, and there
192 Now runs, now stops, then shrieks and scours amain,
193 Staring distraction: many a palace fair,
194 With millions sinks ingulpht, and pillar'd fane;
195 Old Ocean's farthest waves confest the shock;
196 Even Albion trembled conscious on his stedfast rock.
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XV.
197 The meagre famine there, and drunk with blood
198 Stern war; and the loath'd monster, whom of yore
199 The slimy Naiad of the Memphian flood
200 Engend'ring, to the bright-hair'd Phoebus bore,
201 Foul pestilence, that on the wide-stretch'd wings
202 Of commerce speeds from Cairo's swarthy bay
203 His westering flight, and thro' the sick air flings
204 Spotted contagion; at his heels dismay
205 And desolation urge their fire-wheel'd yoke
206 Terrible; as long of old, when from the height
207 Of Paran came unwrath'd the Mightiest, shook
208 Earth's firm fixt base tottering; thro' the black night
209 Glanc'd the flash'd lightnings: heavens rent roof abroad
210 Thunder'd; and universal nature felt its God.
XVI.
211 Who on that scene of terror, on that hour
212 Of roused indignation, shall withstand
213 Th' Almighty, when he meditates to shower
214 The bursting vengeance o'er a guilty land!
215 Canst thou, secure in reason's vaunted pride,
216 Tongue-doughty miscreant, who but now didst gore.
217 With more than Hebrew rage the innocent side
218 Of agonizing mercy, bleeding sore,
219 Canst thou confront, with stedfast eye unaw'd,
220 The sworded judgment stalking far and near?
221 Well may'st thou tremble, when an injur'd God
222 Disclaims thee guilt is ever quick of fear
223 Loud whirlwinds howl in zephyr's softest breath;
224 And ev'ry glancing meteor glares imagin'd death.
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XVII.
225 The good alone are fearless they alone
226 Firm and collected in their virtue, brave
227 The wreck of worlds, and look unshrinking down
228 On the dread yawnings of the rav'nous grave:
229 Thrice happy! who the blameless road along
230 Of honest praise hath reach'd the vale of death;
231 Around him, like ministrant cherubs, throng
232 His better actions; to the parting breath
233 Singing their blessed requiems: he the while
234 Gently reposing on some friendly breast,
235 Breathes out his benizons; then with a smile
236 Of soft complacence, lays him down to rest,
237 Calm as the slumbering infant: from the goal
238 Free and unbounded flies the disembodied soul.
XVIII.
239 Whether some delegated charge below,
240 Some much-lov'd friend its hovering care may claim,
241 Whether it heavenward soars, again to know
242 That long-forgotten country whence it came;
243 Conjecture ever, the misfeatur'd child
244 Of letter'd arrogance, delights to run
245 Thro' speculation's puzzling mazes wild,
246 And all to end at last where it begun.
247 Fain would we trace, with reason's erring clue,
248 The darksome paths of destiny aright;
249 In vain; the task were easier to pursue
250 The trackless wheelings of the swallow's flight.
251 From mortal ken himself the Almighty shrouds
252 Pavilion'd in thick night and circumambient clouds.

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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): DEATH:
Author: Charles Emily
Themes: age; death
Genres: sonnet
References: DMI 32127

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Source edition

A collection of poems in four volumes. By several hands. Vol. I. [The second edition]. London: printed for G. Pearch, 1770, pp. 13-22. 4v. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T116245; DMI 1122)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.